Feeds

Rootkit gangs fight for control of infected PCs

Malware that seeks and destroys other malware

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

A turf war is developing between rootkit-touting cybercrooks over control of infected PCs.

Rootkits are strains of malware designed to hide below the level of anti-virus scanners and programmed to carry out functions such as click fraud. The Russian developer of one of the more potent strains of rootkit, TDL, is supplementing his income by selling the source code for the malware to other cybercrooks via underground forums.

But one of the groups who bought the code has done its own tinkering to develop a related strain of rootkit, called ZeroAccess. As well as adding click fraud modules the second group has begun bundling functionality that uninstalls the TDL rootkit from infected machines, effectively double crossing the original TDL3 author, according to an analysis by web security firm Webroot.

"The original author of the TDL3 rootkit made two versions of TDL3. He kept the second version of the rootkit code for himself and sold the first version to the guys behind ZeroAccess," Jacques Erasmus of Webroot told El Reg.

The group who bought the TDL3 code from the original author added a module called z00clicker that allowed infected machines to be used in click fraud around 12 months ago. ZeroAccess uses an ad clicker plugin called z00clicker2. In addition, the filesystem used by both TDL and ZeroAccess are similar, another sign that the adapted version of TDL3 and ZeroAccess are related.

Adapting purchase source code is all part of software development, whether in the legitimate or underground cyber-economies. However Webroot's analysis suggests that things have turned sour between the original TDL3 and ZeroAccess groups because ZeroAccess has begun bundling functionality to remove TDL3 from infected machines with a specific module called Anti-TDL.

"TDL3 Authors sold a version of TDL3 sourcecode to ZeroAccess authors. Now ZeroAccess guys are double crossing the TDL3 author by uninstalling the TDL rootkit," Erasmus told El Reg, adding that the behaviour recalls earlier turf wars between purveyors of the ZeuS and SpyEye banking Trojans when the latter begun bundling functions to nuke instances of ZeuS from PCs it infected in order to gain sole control of compromised boxes.

ZeroAccess is spreading rapidly via cracks and keygens websites. The malware is particularly difficult to eradicate because it goes out of its way to prevent security software from running on infected machines, as illustrated by a video on YouTube made by Webroot. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.